Episode #133: Discovering Your Journey to Advocacy with Dr. Sheldon Eakins

By Barbara Bray

Join Barbara Bray in conversations with awesome educators, leaders, and influencers as they talk about their passion and purpose for planting seeds for change. Each podcast has a link to a related blog post with more information and resources.

Dr. Sheldon Eakins. is the Founder of the Leading Equity Center and host of the Leading Equity Podcast. He is also the author of Leading Equity: Becoming an Advocate for All Students. With over 11 years in education, he has served as a teacher, principal, and Director of Special Education. Dr. Eakins has a passion for helping educators accomplish equitable practices in their schools. 
Sheldon shared his story with me about his passion for helping educators accomplish equitable practices in their schools. Listen and enjoy the podcast and make sure you read the post below that Sheldon added about his journey.
My Why
Never in a million years did I think I would end up in Idaho. And not Boise, Idaho. Everybody’s heard of Boise, but I live in a small college town in Southeast Idaho. As a black man, the idea of moving to a place with a 0.8% African American population in the entire state is a heavy decision to make. So you might ask, what made you end up here and what brought you to do this work?
At the time, I was looking for work. I just finished my doctorate and was looking for higher education positions. Initially, I didn’t have any guidance or knowledge of what you do after receiving your doctorate.
Higher education was the path that I thought I was supposed to take.
I remember my dad telling me, “Hey, there is this job here at Idaho State University that’s perfect for you. You’ll work at the university and get the opportunity to work with high school students as well.” But in the back of my mind, I thought there was no way I could move to Idaho. However, I put my application in just like I put in applications across the country, and guess who was the first to offer me a position? Idaho State University.
I moved to the state of Idaho not having much knowledge regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion terminology. As a black man, I was very familiar with a lot of experiences that I encountered, but I wasn’t always keen on the definition of those experiences. 
About a year into living in Idaho and working with students and dealing with personal challenges, such as microaggressions and listening to the stories that my students were telling me, especially my students of color were telling me with regards to how they were treated, I wanted to help them, but I didn’t have strategies to assist my students.
I did not have those tools, strategies, or resources, and I figured I couldn’t be the only educator with this problem.